Sam Clayton Jr., sound engineer with a global ear, dies at 58

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Sam Clayton Jr., sound engineer with a global ear, dies at 58
An undated photo provided by the Clayton family of Sam Clayton Jr., who was a producer and sound engineer at Kingston’s famous Harry J. Studio, where he contributed to music by Jamaican roots reggae artists like Horace Andy and Ernest Ranglin. Clayton died on March 31, 2020, in Kingston, Jamaica from the coronavirus. He was 58. Clayton family via The New York Times.

by Daniel E. Slotnik

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Sam Clayton Jr. made sure the world heard real reggae, even when the people making it came from countries far away from its birthplace, Jamaica.

Clayton, who was born and raised there, was a musical jack-of-all-trades. He was a producer and sound engineer at Kingston’s famous Harry J. Studio, where he contributed to music by Jamaican roots reggae artists like Horace Andy and Ernest Ranglin.

He also worked with many foreign artists, including Americans, like Harrison Stafford, and Germans, like Sebastian Sturm. He lived in France for some time, spoke fluent French, and worked with many French artists, including the groups Danakil, Dub Inc., Brain Damage and Broussaï. He also served as a sound engineer for the Jamaican band Toots and the Maytals and the British group Steel Pulse.

Clayton died on March 31 in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 58. The cause was the coronavirus, David R. Hinds, Steel Pulse’s frontman, said in an email.

Hinds called Clayton a “well-rounded individual” who filled multiple roles for the musicians he worked with, including touring manager, guitar and keyboard technician, studio engineer, producer and even percussionist.

“Most important of all, in this thieving, cutthroat music industry of ours, he was trustworthy,” Hinds said. “Where Sam towered over the rest of his peers, is that he held dearly every task he did, no matter how small, or how tedious. They all got his relentless undivided attention.”

Samuel Melchizedek Clayton was born on Aug. 30, 1961, in St. Andrew, Jamaica, to Leonie and Sam Clayton. His father, a percussionist and vocalist with Count Ossie’s groundbreaking group the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, was an influential figure in Rastafarianism. The Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, presented him with a medal on a visit to Jamaica in 1966.

The younger Clayton also worked as a railroad engineer and was part of the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, and inspired the hit Disney film “Cool Runnings” (1993).

Survivors include his wife, Annie Clayton; a daughter, Joelle Clayton; three sons, John and Simon Clayton and Ice Fulchiron; and four sisters, Nicole, Sophia, Aiesha and Suzzanne Clayton; and three grandchildren.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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